Despite a report that shed light on rampant illegal logging in Papua New Guinea two years ago, which was followed by government promises to crack down on the practice, the situation is worse than ever, according to the Oakland Institute, an American think tank.
Oakland Institute Spokesman Frederick Mousseau told Radio New Zealand the organization’s latest research shows that foreign companies are exporting 40 percent more timber from the country compared with two years ago. Despite the increase in exports, the companies have been reporting that their losses have more than doubled, “which doesn’t make sense at all, from a mathematical, economic perspective,” Mousseau said.
“They don’t declare any profit, or barely any profit, and despite this Papua New Guinea has become the [biggest] exporter of tropical timber. It is far above any other exporter in the world today.”
The government has said it has been attempting to stifle the illegal trade by requiring Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABL), according to the report.
“Over the past 10 years that most of them (SABLs) have been in place, companies have been logging and clearing the forest while the government keeps making promises,” Mousseau told Radio New Zealand, adding that most of the SABLs are mostly illegal land deals that take away land from the legitimate landowners.
“What we have recommended is to bring justice to the land owners and land being returned to them,” said Mousseau. “This is what we have been saying, like all the local civil society in PNG, but it is also what the government itself and the prime minister himself have been saying—without action.”